Explorations in Custom: Chapter 2

“I don’t care what you call that. It’s a dress to me.”

Jack was backed up into a corner, a delegate from one planet at the door and a representative of his local religion standing further away down the hall at the actual church/temple/whatever not important. Daniel, however, was right in front of him. Holding that.

“It’s a kimono,” Daniel corrected irritably. “And it’s traditional. We got engaged their way, I don’t see why we shouldn’t wed their way too. And before you say anything else, the general agrees with me. It’d be a fantastic opportunity to further the alliance between us and them. Now put. it. on.”

Desperate, Jack flailed. “Shouldn’t there be a balance to this?” He pointed at the multi-layered, multi-hued, embroidered fabric that swathed his… fiancé from chin to cold floor. “You can represent their needs and I can keep my dignity and represent our method of protection.” He waved at his own self which was covered in his freshly pressed uniform with all his various decorations. “You really didn’t think I brought this out just to argue with, did you?”

Looking frustrated, Daniel turned away. “I can’t believe you,” he was complaining. At a query—in another friggin’ language—from the man at the door, the blond huffed and shook his head. “No, no, uh… I’ll… handle it.” He waved the man off and turned back toward Jack, eyes narrowed thoughtfully.

If the wall wasn’t in the way… Ah hell, maybe he should discard all hope and start climbing it. What I wouldn’t do for a door right now. “Uh… Please let me keep my clothes?” Wouldn’t hurt to ask… would it?

“What about a compromise?” Daniel asked, brows lifting. “You can wear your medals with it.”

Easing down a little, Jack frowned. “They don’t exactly have lapels or …” How could he explain that the whole ensemble was his own image? Daniel slid into different clothing like he spouted different languages. With ease and barely a flicker of an eye. Jack knew one language and wore one type of clothing. Well… three: fatigues, blues, and civilian. But it was all still American!

Brows furrowing sharply, Daniel held the kimono up again. “That doesn’t matter. They can be put on the obi. The belt.”

Sighing, Jack relented. He’d worn his dress uniform for funerals plenty of times, maybe it should be different for a marriage. “Alright, alright. You sure you know how to put that thing on me? Cuz I don’t have a clue.”

“Yes, yes, of course!” the linguist said, visibly relieved. “Of course.” He paused, blinked, and turned his head. All it took was a look for the man in the door to get the idea, and he stepped out. “Alright. Strip,” Daniel continued once the door was closed.

Heaving one more sigh, the older man began unbuttoning. “Thank God, I didn’t go commando today,” Jack muttered.

Daniel blinked at him. And turned faintly red. “Oh right,” he said, like he’d just remembered that normal human thing called modesty. He cleared his throat and shook his head as he opened the kimono. He held it out so Jack could slide it on once he was done.

“Or do I get to keep my pants on?” the man asked hopefully, raising his head to give Daniel puppy eyes as he shouldered out of the heavy jacket and draped it over a chair. “How about shoes?”

“You’ll be wearing hakama and tabi and geta,” Daniel replied. “It’s uh… the hakama are pants, and the tabi are those two-toed socks you see in television, and the geta are wooden sandals.”

Giving the hard platform ‘shoes’ a skeptical look, Jack shook his head. “How were ninjas considered sneaky if they had to run in those?”

Daniel shot him a disappointed look. “They didn’t. They wore waraji, or similar shoes,” he replied. “They were made out of straw, not wood like these.”

The pleading expression Jack angled for was clearly a ‘and I’m not getting those because…?’ look.

“No,” Daniel said. “Just no. You can play ninja some other time. Not when we’re getting married.”

“Samurai?”

The archaeologist could glare when he wanted to. “Jack…”

Chuckling, he let his pants drop. “Fine, but if I trip, I’m taking you down with me.”

Brow twitching, Daniel held the kimono up pointedly. “Too late,” he retorted, but it wasn’t angry. “Now hurry up. You take longer than any girl I’ve ever met.”

Letting out a whistle, Jack rolled his eyes. “And you’re the first to want me out of my clothes just to get into more layers.” His socks were tossed under the chair that now sported the slacks as well as the jacket and pressed white shirt.

“Yes, well, it’s tradition,” Daniel snapped, and helped Jack pull the Kimono on. Over the next twenty or so minutes, they got him dressed successfully with only one snag. And a lot of bickering.

Finally, the linguist stepped back and looked Jack up and down approvingly. “You look nice in it, if that helps.” Pause. “Very nice.” Was that surprise in his tone?

Sniffing, Jack cocked a hip. “It doesn’t make me look fat?” He nearly managed to keep his voice level.

Smiling faintly, Daniel shook his head. “What a girl,” he accused mildly, then blinked. “Oh right, your medals.”

“Says the man in twice the amount of pretty cloth,” Jack quipped back. “Huh. Teal’c was right; They aren’t that bad to move in. A bit breezy though,” he observed aloud as he began pulling decorations off his uniform.

There was a brief pause during which Daniel didn’t answer, and when Jack finally glanced up, the other man was thoughtful. “I like the garb,” he said softly. “I ah… I actually picked that specific for you. Lighter fabrics and all…” He looked strangely embarrassed.

Stalling at the implications, Jack grasped for a response. Calling the blond a girl would be justified, but not exactly original. Finally he straightened, and actually took a moment to judge the clothes that he wore. It wouldn’t be something he’d pick out for himself, that was a given, but if he had a choice… the dark blue fabric and the white under kimono was not that far from his regular blues. And other than some stiffness on account of the belt, it was comfortable to move in. More so than his regular blues. The shoes were damned awkward though.

“I wouldn’t want to hide in a bush with this on,” Jack said slowly, meeting Daniel’s eyes, “but it is nice… for a dress.” As the blond’s brows drew down, the colonel continued. “It fits well, movement’s good, the shoes suck. Wait… Is this why you stole my spare set of clothing three weeks ago?”

Daniel cleared his throat and shrugged sheepishly. “I had to get the right measurements,” he replied.

Mouth open, finger lifted, Jack paused. Well… no, he wouldn’t have gone for measurements. Not if he thought he could avoid it… “You sneaky ninja,” he said instead.

“I’ll take that as a compliment. Ready?” the blond asked with a smirk.

The groom gave the other groom a level look. “Nope. I still have eight more of these suckers to pin on. Feel free to help,” he added slapping four different medals into Daniel’s empty hands.

“How have you ever managed on your own?” was the irritable grumble, even as the darker-haired man obeyed.

Making a face at the other, Jack grumbled, “If you recall, I was ready to go when you said, ‘No’.”

Daniel jabbed him in the side with a finger. “That wasn’t ready, that was whining like a little kid.”

“Nah, that was me making one last-ditch effort to keep my pants on. Something I thought I would never say,” Jack replied with a grin. “I’m done here; you?”

Pinning the last in place, Daniel nodded and took a step back. He eyed Jack critically before apparently deciding it was good enough. “Alright.” He paused, taking a slow breath. “Alright.” He offered Jack a wan smile.

“Hey.” Lifting a hand, Jack grasped his friend’s shoulder. “I’m not demanding a life-long marriage here. We can always introduce our new allies to the concept of divorce after a few months. Or however long it takes for you to get abducted again.”

“Wha—again? I—” Daniel’s mouth snapped shut and he scowled. “You’re a jerk.”

“Or missing,” Jack teased. “Or lost. Look at it this way, since I’m the one with a higher pay bracket, you get half my monetary worth when we split.”

The younger man threw up his arms. “That is completely not the point, Jack,” he replied, exasperated. “Also, I’m not interested in your money. Money has never mattered to me, beyond being a means to an end—and good god, if we don’t get moving, we’ll be late to our own wedding.”

Laughing full out now, Jack pushed Daniel towards the door. “We can’t be late; they won’t start without us.” As they passed through the door, he grinned at the similarly clad priest. “And it’s just down the hall, you geek.”

Daniel let himself be pushed along, though he was pouting for a good portion of the way. “I just don’t want to be late. It’s rude,” he replied. “Manners are very big with these people, Jack!”

“And very important to you too,” the other man replied. “Yes, I know.” After a few more steps, he stopped pushing and instead moved to walk beside Daniel. “And, yes, I know money isn’t the point,” he murmured softly. “However, it would make it easier to get those stone slabs you’ve been eyeing for the past two months.”

Perking up at that, Daniel smiled faintly. “Huh.” It was a thoughtful sort of sound. “I really think they could be—”

“Meso-potamus or whatever,” Jack interrupted. “You are not going to enter the temple while talking about someone else’s long dead rocks.”

“Mesopotamian. And they’re not ‘long dead rocks’,” was the predictable protest, and then a sigh. “Oh, you’re right. We have to focus right now. Focus. Yes.” Pause. “You know, last time I got married, I wasn’t even on Earth.”

Grimacing, Jack sighed. “Last time I got married, I was in my own uniform, in the communal orgy room.”

Daniel just shook his head. “Your life is full of variety, let’s just leave it at that,” he replied, and drew to a stop outside the doors of the temple. He gulped loud enough that Jack could hear it, and drew a slow breath. “Alright.”

Telling his own nerves to shut-the-hell-up, Jack raised a brow at the linguist. “Why are you so jittery? You’re participating in a culture exchange program.” Incidentally, Jack had just discovered that placing his hands inside the sleeves of the opposite arm made him appear tranquil as opposed to freaking out.

“Because, in case you forgot, I’m getting married,” Daniel retorted under his breath. There was a brief pause, and he squared his shoulders. “Ready?” He reached up, hand on the door but not pushing yet. Stalling.

Straightening, Jack nodded. He reached out and put hand on the other door. “Yeah… Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if they had kept one of these doors locked? There’d be a fifty-fifty chance that one of us is going to enter with a bruised nose.”

Daniel chuckled, some of the tension easing. “It’d be you,” he replied smartly, and pushed the door open.

Giving the shorter man a surprised glance, Jack surreptitiously pushed at the door. It didn’t budge. Sunovabitch!

Sidestepping the locked wooden panel, he ignored the chortle from the priest behind him and followed in the archaeologist’s wake. Well, at least he’s smiling.

xXx

Several hours later, after the majority of those invited to the wedding had gone either off planet or to their on-planet homes/quarters/what-have-you, Daniel closed the door of the room. They were expected to spend at least tonight in the same suite attached to the temple, and he just didn’t feel like arguing. He’d been on his feet all night, moving all over the place after the main ceremony had been completed.

At least he’d gotten to see the look on Jack’s face when Teal’c informed him that he looked ‘very appropriately attired’, which is Teal’c speak for ‘dashing’. “Jack?” he called softly. His newly wedded husband had disappeared in this direction twenty minutes previously, claiming a headache. Daniel was pretty sure it was an ‘avoid as many politicians as possible’ headache, though. “You here?”

“Daniel?” Jack’s voice drifted over from further into the suite. “Uh… Hold on. I’m just in the bedroom getting changed.” There was a thump and a ‘Oh shit!’ “… I really hate those shoes.”

Amused, Daniel wandered in that direction. “You need help?” he asked, hesitating outside the door of the bedroom proper. Then he shook his head and nudged the door open, finding Jack fussing with the tie of his obi while trying to keep his pants from falling.

With a growl, the colonel shook his fingers free of the knot and glared at it. “I swear, these are nautical,” he grumbled, peering down. “There’s got to be a trick to it…”

The younger man approached. “Here, let me see,” he commanded, and didn’t wait for an affirmative before slapping Jack’s hands away and tugging at the knot. About half a minute later, he’d successfully untied it with a victorious sound in the back of his throat. “There.”

“Finally,” Jack breathed, gingerly stepping away from the vivid cloth. He lowered the hakama just long enough to get out of them, then draped the garment onto the bed. The haori and under kimono were quickly shrugged off and similarly laid out.

At Daniel’s raised brow, Jack shrugged, picking up a towel from a nearby chair. “Expensive cloth is a pain no matter if it’s a dress or a uniform.”

“Yeah,” the younger man replied, and hurried over to the closet in the corner. He unearthed a handful of hangers. “I’ll hang them up and put them in the closet. You going for a shower?”

Turning, he spotted Jack standing with a frown only two steps from the bed. “Jack?”

The taller man just grumbled and tossed the towel back on the chair. “I can take care of my own clothing, Daniel. Not like I can claim ignorance this time.” He nodded towards two kimono display stands along the far wall. “Our guests were very adamant that I know how to hang them.” He lifted up the haori. “Go ahead and strip. You’ve got to be warm under there.” Turning his back on the linguist, Jack walked over to the stands.

Bemused, but not about to turn down the help, Daniel nodded. “Okay,” he said slowly. “Um… are you alright? You seem… Tense.”

Shrugging one shoulder, Jack turned his head. “I just got married to a fellow that I’m pretty sure didn’t do it willingly.” With a sigh, the man carefully draped the cloth over the bar and turned to face Daniel fully. “And I’ve been told by my commanding officer and several politicians not to screw this up. Not to mention friends and coworkers who have told me the same thing for different reasons.” Giving the younger man a wry smile, Jack added, “Why am I the bad guy here?”

Surprised silence followed this miniature speech for all of a minute and a half before Daniel cracked up laughing so hard his face was red. And kept laughing for almost another five when Jack huffed and threw the towel at him.

Finally, he got ahold of himself, clutching his stomach and gasping for breath. “Seriously?” he asked. “Is that a legit question?” And then he abruptly calmed, annoyed at the rest of the implications. “And are you implying people are pretending I’m a damsel in distress?”

Brows lifted, Jack asked, “Did anyone go up to you and threaten to pull your prostate up through your nose if you pushed an advantage with me?”

Daniel frowned at that. “Who? Why?” he asked. “You’re not that bad!”

“Yes, well… Strange weddings seem to bring out the best in people,” Jack muttered. He tossed the bright obi over the bar and seemed to deem it good enough, because he turned his back on the stands. “I’m going to take a bath. The tub here is just fucking huge.”

“You know, Jack,” Daniel said slowly, thoughtfully, as he watched the other man stalk toward the bathroom. He smirked faintly. “You’re right. No one threatened me.” And hopefully the implication was obvious.

From the way Jack rolled his eyes and shut the door of the bathroom after his black-clad ass, no, it wasn’t obvious.

Ah well. His fault, Daniel thought, amused and not a little exasperated by what he was sure was purposeful obtuseness. He’d just have to make sure Jack stopped being oblivious.

But first—he had to put up the kimono he was wearing.

Fifteen minutes later, Jack was submerged to his nose in blessedly hot water. Maybe if I had known this place had a tub, I would have proposed sooner. It helped though, the heat and the calm, and the fact that he was out of those strange clothes and into something perfectly, happily, universal.

His agitated thoughts had calmed somewhat too. Yes, he was taller than Daniel. Yes, he was stronger too. And older. And meaner. It didn’t mean he was going to abuse Daniel. Dunking his head under the water, Jack let his ears adjust so that he could listen to the footsteps in the bedroom. Where did people get that idea? And why so many?

He snorted some air out through his nose, listening to them bubble to the surface. Sleeping tonight was going to be interesting. He wondered if Daniel was a cuddler. That would make the morning oh-so-very-awkward.

And speaking of awkward… The sound of Daniel’s footsteps had drawn closer, and Jack might have just heard the door opening. And a voice, muffled due to the water in his ears.

Surfacing, Jack swiped water out of his eyes before looking up. “Say that again?” he asked the terry-cloth clad man standing two feet to his right.

“Oh, I just said you were right—it is big.” Dark blue eyes shifted, and the corners crinkled slightly with a laughing smile. “I don’t suppose you’d be opposed to me joining you…”

The colonel blinked. Then blinked again before comprehension finally crawled in. “Right, um. Sure.” Communal showers weren’t a strange thing. Neither were soaks. And as long as I don’t say something stupid, maybe I won’t have to drown myself.

Daniel gave him an oddly knowing look before he shrugged out of his robe and climbed in without further ado. “That’s nice,” he murmured, settling in briefly with an appreciative smile.

Yup. Universal. Shutting down all manner of thought, Jack hummed and rested his head on the edge. Once the lapping of the water smoothed out, all he could hear was the humming of the mountain base and their breathing. It was very nice.

And for another ten minutes, it remained peaceful and relaxing. Then Daniel, as is inevitable (because he’s Daniel), opened his mouth. “So Jack, just curious…”

And Jack surfaced from his mental hibernation with a low grumble. “What?”

“I’m going to ask this, because I have to ask it before I can actually do anything—if I’m going to do anything, that is—but…” Daniel chuckled softly. “Are you actually interested or not? I keep getting cross vibes and it’s very frustrating, you know.”

Just on the verge of slapping a hand over the linguist’s mouth, Jack paused. He turned his head. He blinked. Inside his head, he kicked at his brain and demanded it to wake up and unravel whatever message had just been conveyed. “Define what is it that I am or am not interested in,” he deadpanned. For a linguist, Daniel was being vague.

“Me. Sex. You. Good enough, caveman?”

It was a very good thing that Jack was no longer submerged to just below his nose, or else his gaping mouth would have swallowed a lot of water. “Daniel?”

Rolling his eyes, Daniel shrugged. “What? You were being obtuse. Very obtuse. Purposely obtuse. And that’s not an answer.”

Sitting up, Jack tapped one side of his head. “Whatever I’m doing, it’s not on purpose,” he muttered. “And I’m trying to think of an answer that won’t have me drowning in the next minute.”

At that, the archaeologist frowned in confusion. “Why would you be drowning?” he asked skeptically.

Giving the other man a sheepish look, Jack grunted. “Never mind. So… You, sex, and me, huh?” A dead give-away twitched below the water level, but Jack told it to put all facilities on pause. “You had to put yourself in a bathtub with me before asking that?” Couldn’t have maybe brought this up when both of them were clothed and not married?

“Yep.” Daniel nodded and smiled widely. “Higher chance of success.”

Blinking, Jack sent another kick at his brain. I need translation here! His brain promptly replied, Additional information required. He let out a groan. No shit. Considering how much blood was draining south of the belt line, he wasn’t surprised his top brain wasn’t functioning all that brilliantly. Well, we’re married now… a divorce is going to be awkward either way, may as well make sure of it.

“Uh… yes.”

“Sure you don’t want to think about it a bit more?” Daniel teased, and chuckled at Jack’s look.

“No, I don’t want to think about it any more,” he growled out. “Daniel, what the hell are you getting at?” Between the stifling heat of the water, the uncomfortable questioning, and his body’s obvious attention for the man not twelve inches away from him, Jack was dangerously close to calling the whole thing quits and walking butt naked back to his own quarters.

The linguist’s expression softened slightly, and then he was shifting up onto his knees with a renewed grin. “How ‘bout I show you?”

xXx

The next morning probably dawned bright and early, but when you’re something like forty floors under a mountain, who knew what the weather outside was like. In any case, Jack didn’t know.

All he did know what that the nightstand drawer was mercifully stocked with small packets of lube and moist hand towels. The bed was perfectly alright to leave messed up. And the tub should probably be scoured.

The blankets were somewhere… and he had one pillow. The only pillow on the bed it seemed. Because his husband certainly didn’t have a pillow. Unless Jack’s chest counted.

He also hadn’t slept.

At least Daniel had.

Jack draped an arm over his eyes and announced to the world in general: “I don’t want to go to work today.”

There was a soft answering snicker at that, sleepy-sounding though it was. “Claim illness?” Daniel mumbled, but he wasn’t moving to get up.

The snort Jack gave jostled the blond’s head. “More like I can’t walk,” the older man retorted.

“Muscle failure, then,” Daniel replied. “You fell and you can’t get up.”

Raising one brow, the colonel gave the archaeologist an arch look. “Not just one fall, mister. I fell, and I fell, and I fell. Many times. For several hours. Want a demonstration?” He wrapped warm arms around Daniel’s shoulders and rolled them both so that he was straddling the shorter man.

Daniel made a muffled sound that was definitely interested, and smiled a bit sleepily up at Jack. “Maybe I do.”

“Tell you what, smart guy,” Jack leaned down and brushed a trail of light kisses down the linguist’s neck, “I’ll do a demonstration… and you think up an excuse that’s politically fancy enough to get us the day off.”

Shivering, the younger male ran his hands up Jack’s biceps. “Uhm… deal.”

Chuckling low in his throat, he swept a tongue over a hardening nipple before raising his head. “Start thinking then.”

“Crap,” was the breathless answer.

xXx

Chapter 1 | Table of Contents | Chapter 3

A/N: Since this was sitting prepped in the drafts folder…

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